IRONMAN announced today that it awarded Nice, France the rights to hold the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, bringing its premier middle distance race to the historic resort on the French Riviera which also offers one of the most challenging triathlon bike courses in the world.
The age group and professional championships will be held on Saturday September 8 and Sunday September 9, 2019, featuring a 1.2-mile swim in the Mediterranean, a 56-mile bike featuring several thousand feet of climbing, and a half marathon on the famed seaside Promenade des Anglais.
In preparation, Ironman announced that they would hold a 70.3 test event on the race site on September 16, 2018. After the World Championship, the Nice IRONMAN 70.3 event will become a permanent part of the Ironman 70.3 European Tour.
Ironman made Nice a permanent part of its IRONMAN circuit in 2005, and since then its heroes have included Victor del Corral of Spain, and Tine Deckers and Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium.
But Nice’s roots in triathlon history go deep and it played a key role in the sport’s development.
In November 1982, sports giant IMG organized the first Nice International Triathlon at the middle distance – a 4k swim, 120k bike and 30k run. In contrast to Kona, Nice offered European TV coverage, a generous prize purse and appearance money and accommodations for the emerging pro triathlete class. While Hall of Famer Mark Allen was still struggling with his Kona ambitions, He built career momentum by his domination of the Nice event – creating a 10-win streak over rivals like Yves Cordier, Dave Scott and Scott Molina. After Allen’s Nice streak, 4-time ITU Olympic distance World Champion Simon Lessing added a 5th ITU world title at Nice.
While the dramatic, primal landscape of Hawaii helped create Kona legends, triathlete stars gained added international luster by hanging out at the Hotels Negrescu and La Perouse, and basking in the gilded aura of Nice cafes which once hosted artists like Matisse, Chagall and Picasso.
“With IRONMAN France, our French team lead by Yves Cordier has created one of the best IRONMAN events in the world, as voted by athletes in the IRONMAN Athletes’ Choice Awards. It is only fitting that the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has been awarded to Nice and the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region,” said Hans-Peter Zurbrügg, Managing Director for IRONMAN Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Indeed, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is playing a key role in the evolution of the brand from a local Florida event to a glittering sporting experience held in international resorts.
After five straight races in super flat Clearwater, Florida - which prompted complaints of a draft-fest from top stars - Ironman moved its 70.3 World Championship event to the more challenging venue of Henderson, Nevada for the next three years. Whereupon the World Triathlon Corporation got serious about its global reach and the responsibility to offer a world championship caliber challenge.
Finally taking the 70.3 Worlds out of the United States, WTS went international with a vengeance, offering competitors the challenging Mont Tremblant Canada in 2014, a tough climb at Zell Am See Austria in 2015, a fast and furious course on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2016, and the hills of Chattanooga this year.
Next year, Ironman will move its Ironman 70.3 Championship race to Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa - and will likely achieve its best combination of beauty, glitz and a challenging course in Nice in 2019.